Ep. 016 Keyword Podcast: Black Hat Tactics

February 6, 2017
Ep. 016 Black Hat Tactics

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In this episode, we’re talking about black hat tactics and Asia, where black hat tactics are just a normal part of business.

Today's Amazon Insider, Noah Herschman:

Noah's LinkedIn page


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Show Notes: Common Black Hat Tactics

Do you want rank number one for your product keywords?

What about increasing your product visibility?

How about increase your organic sales without using sponsored ads?

I recently was sent an email from a guy in Pakistan and he promised all that so our team contacted him. Now, his English isn’t great but he keeps telling us to send him our keywords. He also promises that his services are within Amazon’s terms of service. He tells us “I’m compliant.”

“Please send your keyword, I do it,” he told us, “I’m compliant, okay.”

Well, the technique he’s going to use to rank the keyword is considered a black hat tactic or a tactic that is against Amazon’s terms of service. If you’re caught paying for that kind of service, you will get suspended.

In this episode, we’re talking about black hat tactics and Asia, where black hat tactics are just a normal part of business. Here’s this week’s Amazon Insider.

“If they can come up with a way that might not be exactly in policy but can achieve the same result or better with half the amount of labor or resources that’s what they’re gonna do,” says Noah Herschman.

Noah Herschman was the category manager of Home Electronics at Amazon.

“I was in a planning session with Jeff Bezos and he said that he didn’t think that people were actually going to buy televisions online,” Noah says, “I told him, just wait and see.”

That was Noah’s job at Amazon, to make buying a TV on Amazon, a reality. Noah traveled to all the largest electronic manufacturers. Places like Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic. He had to convince them to sell TV’s to Amazon.

“That was the biggest accomplishment to turn Amazon from a bookseller to a large screen television seller power house,” Noah says.

Noah now works in China for Microsoft but he also works with Amazon Chinese Sellers and he does a lot of retraining, because they’re all using black hat tactics.

Noah now works in China for Microsoft-

But he’s also working with Amazon Chinese sellers – and he does a lot of retraining- 

Because they’re all using black hat tactics-

“Every single person does black hat tactics but they don’t see it as black hat,” Noah says, “They see it as what they’ve been doing selling domestically for years, they don’t understand that it’s not within policy.”

You have to know that in Chinese culture, it’s acceptable to bend the rules to get ahead.

“The people who are respected are not necessarily the people who work hard and play by the rules,” Noah says, “The people who are put up on pedestals and emulated are the people who come up with a really clever angle.”

Noah spends time retraining every single seller he works with, but he says they learn fast the right way to do business on Amazon. Now there’s several black hat tactics that are the most common. The first, having multiple accounts and ASINs.

“So rather than getting an ASIN taken down and having to work on re-instating it, they’ll just have another ASIN in the wings for the same thing,” says Noah.

The next most common black hat tactics is fake reviews. This has been mainly taken care of because of Amazon’s new policy, but there was a lot of fake reviews happening.

The third tactic is listing hijackers and it’s a major pain point for many sellers. This is another one that goes back to Chinese culture.

“The hijackers are about competitive,” Noah says, “Chinese are very, very, very, competitive where you can talk about the customer but they’ll kind of space out when you’re talking to them and not pay attention to you but the minute you bring up their competitor they become laser focused.”

Alright, so it’s great and interesting to know about the most common black hat tactics but what can other sellers do about it? Well, Amazon is well aware of the problem.

“I think right now amazon is very, very aware of and sensitive to the China issue. I think no one was ready for how big a monster they would’ve built from opening up all of the avenues for Chinese third party sellers,” Noah says.

Now, if you ask a Chinese seller, they’ll you they feel the pressure from Amazon to behave. When things go wrong, Noah tells me his Chinese sellers seem to take a lot longer to get reinstated.

“They’re absolutely, very clever, very aggressive, very competitive, but I don’t know if they deserve the wrath that they’re getting,” Noah says.

You have to know that having Chinese sellers on the Amazon U.S. Marketplace is part of Amazon’s ultimate goal. Amazon is trying to cut out as many middle men from the creation of products to the distribution as possible. If you’re a private label seller, you buy your products from a factory. Then you increase the price and sell them on Amazon. Amazon wants products that are being sold directly by the factories. Most factories are in China.

That’s why Amazon wants Chinese sellers and Chinese culture drives a desire to get results fast, even if the techniques used aren’t allowed by the rules.

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